Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gluten/allergy-free Seasonig blends

I love herbs and spices. The smell of them have a way of reminding you of memories, home, or special events. The smell of peppermint reminds me of late September and walks in the woods, were I grew up. The smell of chili and cumin reminds me of my father cooking a large pot of pollo mole (chicken and gravy.) Let's not forget all those wonderful smells of Christmas. Tell me what season pops into your head when you think of Christmas.

While buying an envelope or bottle of season blends can be quite handy making your own fresh blend can provide moments of creativeness, a blend tweaked to your personal needs, and best of all provide one of those many ingredients that make a house a home of warmth.

The following are some of my favorite blends that meet our households allergy-free needs.

Mexican Seasoning

½ c chili powder
2 T cumin powder
4 tsp each:
onion powder
garlic powder
2 tsp sugar

To blend either run through a coffee grinder for a few seconds. If you don't have a coffee grinder place ingredients in a tightly closed jar. You will need a jar with twice the room than the space the ingredients are taking up. Now, shake well.

For mild flavor, use 1 tablespoon in a pound of ground beef or 2 cups of beans for vegan. 2 tablespoons for a spicier version.

Italian Seasoning

2 tablespoons each:

Optional 1 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes.*

Run all item through a food possessor or coffee grinder.

* pepper flakes is a part of the original recipe, but I can't have it so I omit it.

Garlic, onion, and black pepper are stand by flavors in cooking. Since I cant have any of them it became a struggle to find a replacement. I came up with:

Colleens Cooking Concoction

4 tsp Allspice powder
2 tsp Celery seed
2 tsp ground Mustard
1 tsp Thyme leaves

Grind in coffee blender until it is a fine powder.

Only 1-2 tsp are needed in your protein choice.

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Mix the following in a jar:
  • 1/3 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice.
For pumpkin pie, add 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of spice mix to your other ingredients.

Finally this is my corn-free baking powder recipe.

Baking Powder

2/3 cup starch (arrowroot,or kuzu)
2/3 cup cream of tartar
1/3 cup baking soda

In a large bowl mix all ingredients well. Being well blended is important to the function and the storage of baking powder. Store in a pint jar. Use it as you would prepackaged baking powder.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gluten-free Cooking 'Scratch' That

When first told to take gluten out of their diet, most people feel like something you see in the cartoons. The ground beneath them is suddenly gone. They're hanging in mid-air waiting to fall. The struggle to cook gluten-free wasn't like that for me. I had already learned about dealing with a dairy-free diet and I had fell head-over-heels in love with heath food, herbs, and the vegan diet.

During the ninety's I worked in a health food store where I learned about the vegan diet. It felt so good. Veganism naturally reduces gluten, corn, and bake goods from the diet, and incorporates a larger variety of foods into the diet. Unable to stay on the diet I continued to have health issues.

So, for me, the bottom didn't fall out. It more at slowly crumbled. It started with starch. Starch, with its high pectin content, is the quickest, easiest, and seemingly best substitute for gluten. Gluten provides quite a bit of the nutrition and the strength to hold a rise in breads and cakes. Starch's lack of nutrition lead me to develop a number of my recipes free of it. Although, cakes, breads, and cookies can be made without starch, pie crusts, crackers, tortillas, and biscuits don't hold together,crisp up or roll out with it's absence.

It was after embracing starch I hit that emptiness. Potato and corn starches have larger starch molecules. The larger the molecules the better it works as a replacement for gluten. They also tend to be cheapest. Well, what do you do if you're allergic to potatoes and corn. First there is tapioca starch. It's too close to the potato family. Crossover allergy problems happen there. So, scratch that. Arrowroot starch is an excellent corn starch substitute. Turns out, it's not unusual for manufactures to cut potato starch into a batch of arrowroot, if they are a little short during bagging. Well, scratch that. Kuzu starch made from the kudzu plant costs 7USD for 3.5 ounces. Are you going to stick a cup of it in your baking? I think not! Scratch that.

With so many foods scratched from my diet, it has been an ability to cook from 'scratch' that has been the biggest help in my struggle to live with, not only a large number of allergies, but to also put together a family meal which considers other family member's allergy concerns. It helps with remembering the ingredient combinations needed to make a cake rise, or to take out out one nutritious food and replace it with another. It makes me brave enough to can my own food, so I can avoid the starch not listed on a food label, but used to make factory canning machines work smoothly without oil.

What has helped you the most in your struggle with gluten/allergy-free cooking?

This weeks highly recommended website for understanding gluten sensitivity.

The World's Ultimate Resource On: Gluten Free Diets, Gluten Free Research, Gluten Free Help, Celiac Disease, and Gluten Free Recipes. Gluten Free Society

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

10 Tips and Tricks for the insincere Dieter

  1. When adding sugar to coffee, while someone present to observe you, try to keep the conversation lively. This will make it harder for them to know just how many spoonfuls of sugar you've added.

  2. The color of fudge blends well with coffee. No one will know if you use it for creamer.

  3. Know how to spin your grammar. If you have been eating doughnuts all day say, 'This is all I've has all day.

  4. Eat small items like marshmallows and doughnut holes in pairs. If you get caught, you can claim, 'this is only the second one' you've had.

  5. When counting calories, don't tell anyone just how high you've counted up to.

  6. Look for hidden fat. You wouldn't want to miss any.

  7. Satisfy you need for a properly dressed salad. Place extra salad dressing at the bottom of the bowl, underneath the salad greens. While at the table in front of friend impress them by barely sprinkling any dressing on top of your salad. Dig deep and enjoy your delicious salad.

  8. Keep a spray bottle of water near by during your effortless exercise routine. 
    When you hear some one coming soak your skin and intensify your activity.

  9. When eating ice cream, eat straight from the box. You can then honestly say, 'I haven't eaten one dish of ice cream.” Include a note of hurt in your voice.

  10. You've only had one spoonful. Just don't tell them you used the biggest spoon you could find.

  11. Never allow dinning alone go to waste. Enjoy all the food your happy 'little' heart desires.

  12. If this blog post caused you any hearty laughter, you've had your exercise for the day. Go take a break.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I think I'm Returning to this blog

After my husband returned to work, it seemed as if, I would never again find the time to write. I am now taking that time, more and more. Just grabbing it and learning how to do it when others are making noise and bugging me. Well, everyone is old enough to take care of themselves while I take a couple of hours for writing fun.

A lot of events have happened in my life in the past two years. I'm, now, a grandmother of 4, 3 boys and 1 girl. I found that I am allergic to corn and that corn is in everything, worst than gluten. Ive been so busy with life and so disappointed by my health issues, I considered abandoning gluten-free blogging all together.

With billions of blogs and millions of them on the subject of gluten-free cooking, I've often defeated myself by thinking why bother. Well, I love to write and I enjoy cooking, and maybe, just maybe, my experiences can help someone out there on the web. So I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna write.

However, it's going to be about more than gluten-free. I have another blog for fan fiction and other writings, mostly Supernatural fan fiction, though. If you're interested it's The Barefoot Bard.